Most people acknowledge that maintenance and repair costs are a necessary compromise for the independence they gain from owning a car. But there is one important maintenance task everyone should undertake before buying a car; repairing their credit report.
A poor credit score may not prevent you from getting a car loan, but it can force you into a much higher interest rate. Over the life of a five-year, $20,000 vehicle loan, a low credit credit can cost you between $4,000 and $8,000 in additional interest payments when compared to what you would pay with good credit. Paying your bills on time does not necessarily ensure a good credit score, either. Research by the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups indicates that four out of every five credit reports contain errors. These errors can bring down your credit score, and your borrowing power.
The experts at Lexington Law, a law firm that focuses on helping consumers dispute the negative items in their credit reports, offer the following credit maintenance tips to take care of before you go car shopping:
- Pull your credit report once a year. You can get a free copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com, the only site authorized by the Federal Trade Commission to provide these reports. If you already received your free report earlier in the year, pay for another, more up-to-date copy, since your credit report, and credit score, are constantly changing.
- Check for inaccuracies. Check for out-dated information. Make sure everything that appears on your report actually refers to your credit history, and not someone else with the same name.
- Reduce your debt as much as possible. Paying off credit cards with low outstanding balances is helpful because it lowers your debt to available credit ratio. Lenders look at this comparison to see if you’re at risk of over-extending yourself.
- Remove as many negative items from your credit report as possible. Negative items can have a significant impact on your credit score. There is no law that states that a negative item must remain on your credit reports for seven years. You can have it removed long before that.
By performing a bit of credit score maintenance before applying for that auto loan, you can help to ensure you get the best possible loan.
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